Heritage Trails - Places of Interest

Holy Wells

Many wells or springs were important religious sites in pre-Christian days. Our ancestors regarded wells, springs, lakes and rivers as the abodes of gods. Numerous local ceremonies were associated with them with some famous due to the "offerings" discovered around them. Over time many sites, including wells, gradually came to be associated with the early Christian missionary saints.

There are a number of springs within the village where water emerges from particularly impervious bands of the local sandstone. One in particular is of note as it is dedicated to Saint Patrick; one of only two wells dedicated to this Saint in the whole of Wales. The site is located in the fields adjacent to the Cwm Shenkin brook near to the site of the Upper Mill. The area above the well is known as Pen Padrig (Patricks Head). The well was also the main water source for the village until the 20th Century. Further details can be found in Francis Jones, (The Holy Wells of Wales, U. of Wales Press, 1954).

Saint Patrick lived in the early 5th Century, probably the son of a Romano- British family. He was kidnapped from their villa or farmstead and sold into slavery in Ireland when 15 years old. It is not clear where his home was though nearby Caerwent has been suggested. He escaped and returned home as a Christian in his 20's, returning to Ireland later as a Bishop. Today he is regarded as Ireland's patron saint.

Could the dedication of Fynnon Padrig (Patricks Spring) suggest a close link between Patrick and the area? Abergavenny certainly has Roman connections with a fortress known as Gobannium. Did the future Saint pass this way? Whatever the answer the name suggests long habitation in the Govilon area.

Go to the Govilon Village website